Legal News | 14.10.22
Can you make a U turn when it comes to your Will?
You hopefully can make a U turn when it comes to your Will, without too much news coverage and embarrassment, unless you have previously signed a ‘mutual Will’.
‘Mutual Wills’ are Wills made by two or more people who agree that the terms of those Wills are legally binding. This means that the terms of the Wills cannot be changed after one of the parties to the agreement dies.
Contrast this with ‘mirror Wills’, whereby two people prepare (almost) identical Wills but these are not binding on either party and the Wills can be changed at any point in the future.
You might think mutual Wills are an appealing option, so you can be sure your wishes will be binding on your partner after your death. However, there are a number of disadvantages including:
- the lack of flexibility – circumstances can change and mutual Wills restrict what the survivor can and cannot do with the property in the estate;
- Mutual Wills may prevent the survivor from being able to make lifetime gifts of the assets caught by the agreement – this may impact in a number of ways, including an individual’s ability to minimise any potential inheritance tax due on the second death;
- there can be (potentially expensive and time consuming) disputes over whether the Wills were ever intended to be mutual and binding; and
- issues can arise in determining what assets should be bound by such agreements – for example, what should happen to assets that the survivor acquires after the first death? Are these assets also caught by the agreement?
Due to the disadvantages associated with mutual Wills, they are rarely recommended and relatively uncommon. There are however a number of options to ensure your wishes are met by your Will, and offer the flexibility you want.
If you would like further information, please email Wansbroughs’ Private Client team at firstname.lastname@example.org